Beauty in the Built Environment: Sto Color

Since 1965, when Sto introduced a revolutionary color system, the company has been providing art and inspiration in architecture, working with design and building professionals to facilitate design and color decision-making.

#2 in a three-part series on Sto Studio

The study of color by artists, philosophers and scientists has spanned centuries, dating back to 1672 when Sir Isaac Newton defined the components of visible light as color. Segmenting the spectrum into easily identifiable color families, he led others to develop their own versions of the color wheel and established “color theory”, which in today’s parlance means “guidance on mixing colors”.

While Sto Corp. doesn’t date back as far as Newton, it has been a pioneer in color theory, specifically as it relates to architecture. Product and color formulations are based on theories, old and new. In 1965, Sto introduced a revolutionary color system and has been building upon that first offering since then. The StoColor 800 — a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception — was released in 2002, and remains a favorite resource for the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

Humans are able to distinguish “primary colors” (e.g. yellow, red, and blue), “secondary colors” (e.g. orange, violet, and green), which are created by mixing two primary colors (yellow + blue= green), and a host of tertiary colors for use in buildings’ interiors and exteriors. It is the human perception of color that is the foundation of the StoColor System.

Sto’s color wheel is made up of 24 parent colors which are combined with white, black and grays to create a range of sophisticated colors applicable to our built environment. Extrapolating specific colors from the master palette, Sto has created subsets for varied markets: The Sto Sto Classic Color Collection,  The Sto Designer Color Collection, Sto for the Southwest, The Architectural Color Collection and so on.

The Power of Color

Color is integral to our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made, architectural environment. It has played a role in human evolution. Colors influence us. They affect our psychology, they communicate, inform and influence judgement. Clearly, color in architectural spaces is more than decoration.

Form, function, design and color coexist within our architectural environment. Just as color plays a huge role in branding, colors define the nature and aesthetic of a building; colors help develop the culture and identity of a city as well. Architecture influences our lives more than we are usually aware and the use of color in architecture makes a built form even more impactful.

Utilizing color in buildings has evolved over the years. Grey, dull and restrained monochromatic facades — especially in older cities — have given way to bolder colors on building exteriors and interiors.  Whites and greys have long been favored by architects and designers, but many feel these colors are too “grave and isolating” and are incorporating more color into their designs. Dark saturated colors are trending right now, as are so-called “celebration colors”. How uninspired is beige on beige on beige, and by contrast how delightful is it to turn a corner and see a sudden burst of color?

Empirical observations and scientific studies have proven that our reactions to architectural environments are highly influenced by our sensory perception of color. Architectural psychology, color psychology, neuropsychology, visual ergonomics, psychosomatics prove that color influences us psychologically and physiologically.

The psychological effects of color are the basis of what’s called visual/color ergonomics: “a multidisciplinary science concerned with understanding human visual processes and the interactions between humans and other elements of a system”. As an example of visual ergonomics: a medical facility would benefit from a different color scheme than an industrial complex or a school.

Color is a sensory perception and, as with any sensory perception, it has effects that are symbolic, associative and emotional. In simpler, more graphic terms: yellow feels sunny, friendly, and inviting; red is provocative, arousing, perhaps aggressive. Green is balanced, calm and simple

Celebrate Color

As a means to help the market understand the power and potential of color Sto established Sto Studio, offering custom color solutions to clients world-wide. By illustrating the potential aesthetics for a project with full-color renderings, Sto Studio enables design and building professionals to see the future and choose from a variety of design scenarios.

The team of color professionals at Sto Studio who are inspired by color and art in architecture, know the science of color mixology, but also the gestalt and psychology of color. Sto Studio designers are experts on color but also understand its value as part of new coatings and finishes, its sustainability and efficacy in meeting the goals of the design and building community, or in the restoration of protected buildings.

Whether providing industry leading delivery of quality color formulas and samples, or a professional grade rendering, Sto Studio facilitates design and color decision making. The Sto Color System offers a harmonic, finely nuanced selection of colors for facade and interior use and the most advanced, visually ergonomic media presentations for all phases of color design.

Color 101 – a Quick Primer

  • Hue identifies the color family (blue, green, red, etc.)
  • Chroma is the purity or intensity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
  • Value refers to how light or dark a color is (the lighter the color, the higher the value). Dark colors absorb light energy and have a lower LRV (light reflective value). Light colors reflect light and have higher LRVs.
  • LRV – Light Reflective Value: indicates how much light or energy is bouncing off a surface. A color with 87% LRV is reflecting 13% of the light energy broadcast on its surface; a dark brown with 8% LRV absorbs 92% of the light energy.
  • Achromatic: essentially, lacking chroma (grays, neutrals, black and white).
  • Saturation refers to how strong or weak a color is (a highly saturated color would be considered very strong). Regard it as “Pure vs. Pale”.
  • Tones are created by adding gray to a color, making it duller or softer-looking than the original, pure hue. Tones are sometimes easier to use in designs.
  • Shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original. The word is often incorrectly used to describe tint or tone, but technically shade only applies to hues made darker by the addition of black.
  • Tints are created by adding white to a color, making it lighter than the original. Very light tints are sometimes called pastels, but any pure hue with white added to it is technically a tint, even if the color is still quite bright.

Next week, look for Sto Studio case studies.


Architecture as Art – Sto Studio and the Built Environment

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review fully illustrated aesthetic options for a project long before construction begins.

#1 of a three-part series on Sto Studio

Creating the aesthetic character of a building is no simple task; nor is determining the engineering and science for a structure.  If you can bring these building elements together, the results are remarkable. And if you can see what it’s all going to look like before you break ground or start a restoration — not just one possible solution, but many choices — it’s magic. More importantly, it expedites informed decision-making.

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review proposed options, which illustrate the potential aesthetics for a project long before construction begins. Full-color renderings offer clients the opportunity to envision the future – to really understand their structure and its appearance in a variety of design scenarios. Sto Studio is, in essence, a service that facilitates design and color decisions.

Sto Studio has been providing these integrated design services for customers across the Americas, Europe and Asia for over three decades. Innovative claddings and other advanced technologies are essential for both new construction and renovations today (to ensure energy efficiency and sustain the buildings’ value),  but architectural treatments and color can be just as important.  A commercial real estate study revealed that architectural color can increase a property value from 25-40%.

By collaborating closely with clients, Sto Studio offers a unique, value-added service, providing tailor-made color and material concepts for facades and interiors. Architectural color concepts and solutions evolve based on a project’s underlying conditions, requirements and objectives, resulting in a series of color renderings to help determine the most appealing aesthetic option. From renderings and visualizations, to color presentations and color charts, local marketing assistance, reference tools, and technical advice, Sto Studio is an essential resource for design and building professionals.

The combination of technical expertise and design support often results in a holistic solution for any and all construction challenges. For instance, a bright red may be an ideal branding color for a building, but may not perform well due to it’s saturation level. It could create stress on the wall system and cause surface degradation. Therefore, art and science need to work hand-in-hand to ensure the ultimate realization of a building’s durability and curb appeal.

Next Week – Color 101 – a primer on color theory and an insightful, in-depth look at the StoColor System that is an integral part of Sto Studio’s design expertise.


Sto Corp. Combines Form and Function at the 2015 AIA Expo

In May, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA hosted thousands of architects and over 800 construction industry exhibitors for the 2015 AIA Expo. The Georgia World Congress Center boasts over 170,000 square feet of exhibition space and it needed every last bit of it for the AIA Expo, one of the largest gatherings of architects and design professionals in the world. Sto Corp., whose headquarters is based in Atlanta, GA was one of the many exhibitors who participated in this year’s AIA Expo, and they pulled out all the stops. “This year AIA was in our hometown so we wanted to do something bold, new and clearly distinct from previous years,” said Valerie Mayer, Sto Corp.’s Manager of Marketing Communications. To reinforce Sto Corp’s connection to the larger Sto global family, this year’s AIA booth included a gallery of high profile projects from around the world featuring a variety of Sto’s different wall systems and building envelope solutions.    Among the various systems and solutions that Sto had to display were samples of Sto’s Ventec rainscreen cladding systems. The Ventec systems offer the highest degree of performance in terms of long term sustainability and durability. Largely a green system, Sto’s unique StoVentec carrier board is made from 96% recycled glass. StoVentec systems feature a myriad of aesthetic and design options including glass mosaic, natural stone, and even photovoltaic façades. Throughout the booth, Sto’s four core values; innovation, relationship, performance, and sustainability; were represented. Amongst the innovations being presented were StoPanel Technologies pre-fabricated façade systems. “Unlike other panelized facades, StoPanel Technology is the only system that uses standardized materials, details, and design considerations. We have built a network of contractors and engineers across the Americas who are sharing best practices and constructing the same superior panelized wall systems regardless of design or location,” said Dominick Baruffi, executive director of StoPanel Technology. All Sto wall systems begin with Sto’s industry leading air and moisture barrier system, StoGuard. This year’s booth included a number of videos showing that air tightness and moisture resistance with StoGuard is not only durable enough to last the lifetime of a building, but can be installed much more simply than more conventional systems.    Of course excellent building performance means little if the building is an eyesore, which is why Sto chose to show off its more creative side as well. “Form and function should go hand in hand. Architecture really is functional art,” said Billy Rosbottom, manager of Sto Studio. An inspiration wall on the outside of the Sto’s booth showed off a variety of different aesthetic options that could easily be achieved using Sto’s various different finishes, as well as natural elements that helped […]